A spinal fusion is a surgery to weld together 2 or more vertebrae. Vertebrae are the bones that make up the spine.
There are several different types of spinal fusions based on factors, such as the part of the spine involved, placement of the incisions, and the parts of the vertebra that are initially fused. All fusion surgeries include the use of a graft that is made of bone material. It stimulates healing and encourages the 2 bones to heal together into one solid bone. The graft may be a piece of bone from the hip, a piece of bone from a cadaver, or artificial bone material.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Incomplete fusion of the bones
- Blood clots
- Hematoma—a build-up of blood in the wound
- Nerve damage causing pain, numbness, tingling, or paralysis
- Impaired bowel and/or bladder function
- Reaction to anesthesia
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
- Poor nutrition
- Chronic disease such as diabetes or obesity
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (Spinal Arthrodesis; Vertebral Interbody Fusion; Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion; Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion; Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion; Posterolateral Lumbar Fusion )
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